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Incipio, as one of the largest world-wide accessory retailers, continues its line with fresh offerings for the iPad mini. Concurrently with the launch of the mini, Incipio hit the ground running with a few of their staple cases specifically tailored for Apple’s newest iPad addition.

Today, I take a look at the Next Generation Polymer (NGP) impact protective shell. One of my biggest fears is scratching that beautiful black anodized shell and the NGP may be the ticket…

Design and Protection

The goal of Apple’s design process is to keep products trim and pristine. Consequently, covering them up with cases is irksome. Openly, I only use cases that are equally minimalistic and only to protect my expensive premiumly priced electronics. Big, bulky cases or ones that have no protective value, such as designer cases or the like, are a complete waste to me.

With that in mind, I am happy to receive the NGP from my friends at Incipio for review. The polymer is 1.8mm thick, which is more thick that a simple plastic clip on shell, but the rubberized impact resistant material will stand up to a fall or tumble. Soft to the touch, the semi-rigid case easily slips around the edges of the mini, but feels completely turgid once in place, giving it a solid feel despite its malleability. Crazy, I know.

With that in mind, I am happy to receive the NGP from my friends at Incipio for review. The polymer is 1.8mm thick, which is more thick that a simple plastic clip on shell, but the rubberized impact resistant material will stand up to a fall or tumble. Soft to the touch, the semi-rigid case easily slips around the edges of the mini, but feels completely turgid once in place, giving it a solid feel despite its malleability. Crazy, I know.

Precision cut port openings grant easy access to the Lightning port, stereo speakers, rear facing camera, headphone jack, mute switch, and microphone. The sleep/wake and volume buttons are covered, which is my only gripe. I appreciate cases that cover buttons that do not necessarily need to be exposed to operate. However, because of the semi-rigid material, it is surprisingly difficult to operate either the volume or sleep button. To step out on a limb, if you are going to hand your NGP bedecked mini to a child for their Angry-Birding-pleasure, I would not be shocked if they could not operate those particular buttons. Now that I think about it, it may be a good thing if you don’t want the volume turned up.

Conclusion

Overall, I really like the soft touch and general feel of the NGP shell by Incipio and feel like $24.99 is a reasonable price. It is slightly thicker than a simple plastic shell giving it extra protection for drops and bumps. However, the difficult to press sleep/wake and volume buttons is particularly annoying. Will I continue to use the NGP? Yes, but only if I am traveling and need the extra protection. If you are interested, hop over to chúng tôi and choose from pink, purple, grey, or black.

Pros:

Semi-rigid shell

Minimalistic with protection

Thin enough to retain the small feel of the mini, but thick enough to resist bumps

Cons:

Difficult to press covered sleep/wake and volume buttons

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Review: Ipad Mini Smart Case

I briefly talked about Apple’s new Smart Case for the iPad mini in yesterday’s iPad mini with Retina display review, but after giving it some thought, I think it deserves some more attention.

Let me just start out by saying that I’ve not used the Smart Case for the full sized iPad Air, so I can’t really speak on that. In fact, this is my first experience with a Smart Case. I’ve used Smart Covers plenty of times in the past, but never opted for a Smart Case until now.

Why I chose the Smart Case instead of the Smart Cover

The reason I opted to go with the Smart Case instead of the Smart Cover really isn’t complicated. No, I’ve never been a big proponent of cases, but with the way I use my iPad mini, it behooves me to use a case.

I’m someone who travels often with my iPad mini. I estimate that I take it out of the house at least 5 times a week while traveling around the city from place to place. I don’t have it all the time like my iPhone, but 9 times out of 10, it’s on my person.

With that in mind, I needed a case, and the Smart Case is the best option available for the iPad mini. Not only does it look good and feel good in the hand, but it provides the protection I was looking for.

Unlike the Smart Cover, the Smart Case covers the entirety of the iPad mini. It covers the front, just like the Smart Cover, but it also covers the rear of the device — an area that’s susceptible to nicks and dings.

With the Smart Case, I can now confidently toss my iPad in my bag, lay it on any table, lay it on the floor, even. All the while I can be confident that no physical harm will take place.

Quality

As far as quality goes, you’d be hard pressed to find a 3rd party case that matches Apple’s quality. The Smart Case isn’t devoid of flaws, but the quality of the case is apparent.

Best of all, the Smart Case feels ridiculously good to hold in hand. The leather, while not Corinthian or anything like that, is adequate enough and feels good to the touch. The bottom line is that it’s pleasurable to hold the iPad mini while it’s in its Smart Case.

The cutouts for all of the ports and buttons are done so in a reasonable manner. The Lightning connector cutaway is big enough to accommodate third party Lighting adapters and some other accessories. You’ll still run into situations where you have to remove the iPad mini altogether, but for your average Lightning connector, you shouldn’t run into any issues.

The camera hole on the rear of the case is big enough to avoid interference with the camera. The same goes for the microphone ports, and headphone jack.

For the volume buttons and the mute switch, I have to admit that the case is a bit annoying when interfacing with them. Since the Smart Case completely covers the volume buttons and sleep button, some of the tactile feedback is lost in the process. It’s not a deal breaker, but it is definitely noticeable and something to consider.

The mute switch cutout is probably the most annoying aspect of the Smart Case’s cutouts. The switch is so deep that it’s hard to use the switch without thinking about it. It would have been nice if Apple could have tapered this hole a bit more to make it easier to adjust the mute switch.

As a stand

The Smart Case is superior to the Smart Cover when it comes to functioning as a stand. The chances of it falling over and collapsing are much less, due to the fact that the cover is a part of the case as a whole. The Smart Cover has a tendency to disconnect while standing, because of the relatively weak magnets.

Sleep/wake functionality

Like the Smart Cover, the Smart Case features magnets near its opening to interface with the iPad’s sleep/wake mechanism. This allows you to close the case or open the case to sleep or wake the device respectively. This has always been one of the iPad’s flagship features, and it makes it much easier to just pick it up or sit it down without thinking too much about it.

The hinge

Outside of the recessed mute switch issue, the only other glaring flaw with the smart case is with its hinge. The hinge works, but the Smart Case’s front cover never sits perfectly flush with the iPad’s screen.

The buckle in the Smart Case could potentially invite foreign debris, but it’s unlikely. It’s more of an aesthetic annoyance than an actual problem in real world usage.

What’s more annoying, to me at least, is how sharp the hinge is. When holding the iPad mini with the Smart Case closed, the hinge has a tendency to dig into your hand, and that proves to be a bit irritating. Thankfully, this isn’t an issue while using the iPad with the Smart Case open.

Ease of installation

Removing the device from the Smart Case is just as easy. I recommend that you do so from time to time to remove any foreign debris that may have introduced itself behind the case.

Final thoughts

Despite what others may say, I think that the iPad mini’s Smart Case is a great peripheral. It’s a bit steep at $69.99, but that’s the price you’ll pay for near total peace of mind.

The leather is classy feeling, easy to clean, and best of all, it takes the thought out of taking care of your newly acquired iPad mini with Retina display. I highly recommend it.

Ipad Mini Release Date And Details Splatter

iPad mini release date and details splatter

If you’re following along with the iPad mini and its imminent release, there are a collection of details you can readily assume to be true – even without Apple revealing the release date, the models, and the specifications in each device. This release will be primarily a filing of a market hole: where there’s no tablet in the market other than the iPad to placate the masses addicted to the idea that Apple’s solution is best, there will soon be two – or three, depending on how you look at the situation. If you want an iPad that costs less than $399 and you want it soon, you’ll only have to wait until November 2nd – if several sources saying the same thing are accurate.

With rumors abound that 24 models of new iPad-like devices have appeared in the Apple SKU listing in the sky, it would seem that there are two kinds of iPad mini on the way. You’ve got two different color combinations (black and white) up front, three different internal storage capacities (16GB, 32GB, and 64GB), and the option to have wi-fi-only or a mobile data connection. There being four different distinct code combinations (P101, 3, 5, or 7), we might be seeing four different color combinations instead of just two.

So that’s black, white, red, and green, six iPad minis in each category, three for wi-fi, three for mobile-data-equipped, with each of the three being 16, 32, or 64GB capacities. How does that sound to you? Another possibility is a fourth internal capacity size: 8GB.

With the iPad mini appearing to be looming with an October 23rd event date now on the books, it’s not out of the question that each of these units could be coming out on the 2nd of November. With a tablet made with the specifications that’ve been tipped many times over, we can assume we’ll have a device with a 7.85-inch display, a screen resolution of 1024 x 768 pixels and the same ratio as each iPad on the market today, and a bezel that’s significantly smaller than the current model.

These devices will appear larger than the Amazon Kindle Fire HD (the 7-inch version, at least), and will be larger than the Google Nexus 7 as well. With a price point somewhere between $200 and $300 based on estimations done with component costs, we’ll likely be seeing a competitor for the 7-inch tablet market that doesn’t beat their cost, but certainly does beat their desirability for the Apple-loyal fans in the world today. Expect a device that’s not going to rock the tablet world to its knees like the original iPad did, but one that fills the gap for Apple users who want to work with a slightly smaller device on a regular basis.

You’ll get the full lowdown when we hit up the main event on the 23rd – expect live updates from us right here on SlashGear from morning until night – you shall know all!

Top 10 Android Ipad Mini Alternatives: Summer 2013

It’s not secret that although I am an Android phone users, when it comes to tablets it’s the iPad mini that I reach for when hitting the road! Well at least that was true until Chinese tablet makers started to produce these great looking, affordable Android iPad mini alternatives!

Top 10 Android iPad mini alternatives

No. 1 P7 Mini Pad

The No. 1 P7 was one of the first 7-inch Android mini tablets to actually go on sale in China. The 7-incher was originally announced as a 2GB RAM tablet with built-in 3G but due to the various issues with the 1.2Ghz MT6589 processor only a 1GB model made it to market.

As the processor is a MT6589 you can also makes calls and browse the internet over WIFI and 3G on the No.1 Mini pad making it quite a versatile little tablet.

Ramos X10 Mini Pad

Pricing is a little higher too with the Ramos costing $180, throw in the fact that this tablet only supports WIFI and the X10 is looking like a pricy prospect. However there is the benefit are a more ‘International’ brand than No.1 so warranty and service issues might be less of a problem.

Ainol Novo 8 Dream F1

The Ainol Novo 8 Dream F1 looks less like the iPad mini than some of the others on this list due to the larger 8-inch display and thick bezels. Under the hood a Actions ATM029 ARM A9 1.5Ghz quad-core processor purrs along with the help of 1GB RAM and 8GB of built-in memory. There is also room for a 32GB SD card meaning you can load planting of media on the tablet to keep you occupied by the pool.

Again the Novo 8 is a WIFI only tablet but at just $150 for intentional customers it is quite a bargain.

Newsmy S8 Mini

Chinese electronics maker Newman are better known for their MP3, MP4 players and more recently their phones like the Newman N2 and K2. The company also makes a range of tablets under their Newsmy brand like the S8 Mini iPad mini alternative.

The body of the Newsmy S8 mini measures just 7.2mm while the display is a 7.9-inch OGS panel with a resolution of 1024 x 768. Processing power comes from a 1.6Ghz quad-core Cortex A9 chipset with 2GB RAM. 2 versions of the tablet are available one with 8GB memory and the other with 16GB, both feature space for a 32GB SD card, mini USB and HDMI out.

GooPad Mini 7

The GooPad mini was first announced just hours after the launch of the real iPad mini, but it has only been available to buy since early this year. The GooPad mini 7 is a 7-inch version with 1280 x 720 display and quad-core Mediatek processor.

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As you can probably guess the GooPad accepts SIM cards meaning you can make calls or browse the web over 3G or 2G networks. Two version of the GooPad mini 7 are available a standard model with non removable 4800mAh battery and MT6589 processor and a Plus version which has s MT8389 chipset and removable battery.

MSI Primo 81

Of the tablets on this list the MSI is probably the one which you are likely able to buy easily outside of China.

Originally shown off at Computex 2013 in Taiwan, the MSI Primo 81 packs a 7.85-inch 1024 x 768 display, quad-core Allwinner processor, 1GB RAM, 3500mAh battery, HDMI out, Micro USB, dual cameras and SD card reader.

Orient Tab 7 plus

Another 3G equipped tablet, the Orient Tab 7 uses the popular quad-core MT8389 chipset which is similar to the MT6589 but designed for tablet usage rather than phone use. The Soc brings WIFI, 3G, phone calls and GPS to the tablet along with great performance.

The display is a 7-inch 1280 x 800 resolution unit, there is a 4000mAh battery, Android 4.2.1, 5 mega-pixel front camera and 8 mega-pixel rear! The Orient Tab 7 is on sale for $249.68.

Julong Mini Tab

Julong have entered the popular mini tablet market at the 999 Yuan ($160) price point with this plastic bodied 3G device. Powered by a 1.2Ghz MT6589 quad-core processor you can think of the Julong Mini Tab as a large phone rather than tablet as it can also make voice calls.

Android 4.2 runs on the device which a custom ROM to give it a similar look to iO6 on the iPad mini.

Cube U55GT

The Cube U55GT is another option for those of you wanting long battery life with the flexibility of 3G connectivity. The tablet runs on the energy-efficient quad-core MT8389 chipset allowing 3G web surfing and voice calls plus there is a build in 4500mAh battery (one to the largest on the list!).

Other features include a 7.9-inch 1024 x 768 display, 5 mega-pixel main camera, 2 mega-pixel front, 1GB RAM, 16GB memory and Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean.

Xiaomi Tablet

The Xiaomi tablet should be officially launched on 16th August in Beijing. We don’t have official specs yet, but according to rumours the tablet will feature a 7-inch 1280 x 720 display, 1GB RAM, 16GB memory, quad-core processor, built-in 3G, 13 mega-pixel camera and 4000mAh battery.

We can also expect a new custom version of MIUI V5 for the tablet along with a price tag of 999 Yuan ($160).

CHUWI Mini Pad V88

The CHUWI Mini Pad V88 is probably the most powerful Android iPad min alternative on the list thanks to the 1.8Ghz quad-core Rockchips RK3188 processor, Mali 400 GPU and 2GB RAM.

The Mini Pad V88 also boasts a 7-inch 1024 x 768 display, 4000mAh battery, and 5 mega-pixel camera. Pricing is $164.59 for international customers.

Top 10 Android iPad mini alternatives

Review: Marware Axis And Microshell Folio Ipad Mini Cases

Marware, one of the leading accessory makers for Apple’s mobile devices, has sent us two of their latest iPad mini cases for review. Both cases are unique in their own right, but both are built with versatility and quality materials. Check our reviews of both the Marware Axis and Marware MicroShell Folio cases for the iPad mini below.

Design/build quality:

The Axis (pictured above) is a high-quality, genuine leather case for the iPad mini. The case features folio-style construction so you have to flip the leather cover in order to access the iPad mini’s display. The iPad mini sits in a hard, plastic-like-material-shell. This shell snaps into the leather exterior body of the Axis case. The case’s materials are of very high-quality and this case feels like it can work well for a long time. The case has a luxurious feel to it that many iPad mini owners will surely appreciate. While we tested the black unit (which looks fantastic), Marware also ships in tan, blue, purple, and red models.

Protection: With its high-quality leather exterior, the Axis provides solid protection for the iPad mini. Coupled with the hard plastic internal membrane that actually tightly holds the iPad mini in place, your iPad mini will be getting solid protection from damage due to nicks and drops. This case is not as heavy-duty or as strong as something like the Otterbox Defender Series case, but it will likely get the job done for many people. For added protection, the case includes a strapping mechanism to keep the folio lid covering the iPad mini’s screen shut. This will come in handy if your drop your iPad mini while it is in the Axis and you do not want the display cover falling open.

Features: Besides being a case for the iPad mini, the Axis includes a neat feature that allows users to prop up the iPad mini in portrait mode. While most people like watching video and using apps in landscape mode, the portrait position, I have found, is great for typing with an external keyboard accessory. The Axis includes a mechanism to rotate the iPad mini while still inside the case. The iPad mini can than be clipped into a secure portrait position. This feature, I have found, is handy. Another great feature is a strap to hold your hand in while holding the iPad mini (in the Axis) with one hand. This strap works well and, I believe, alone is a worthwhile reason to pick up the Axis iPad mini case. It truly makes the iPad mini even more usable.

Wrap-up/pricing: Marware’s iPad mini Axis case is a well-contructed, seemingly long-lasting, leather protective accessory. I found that it works well, offers solid protection, and has an air of luxury. Combined with its unique features, this is a great iPad mini case. The Axis comes in at just under $45, but is heavily discounted at Amazon right now. 

Hands-on gallery:

Design/build quality: The MicroShell Folio feels like an iPad mini version of Apple’s Smart Case for the full-sized iPad. It has a front flip cover that is made out of a light, yet seemingly protective and well-contructed material. The back piece of the case is made out of a rubbery, hard-plastic-like material. The case is built to be folio style, so you can easily flip the cover to use your iPad mini. The front flap is well-attached to the case’s back piece, so it should last a long-time.

Ports: The MicroShell Folio provides the same port access as the Axis case reviewed above: Lightning connector, speakers, sleep/wake button, volume/mute ports, and the rear camera.

Protection: Because of its lighter design, the MicroShell feels slightly less protective than the Axis case. However, it still offers decent/solid protection for your iPad mini. It includes the same strap as the Axis to ensure that the front flap stays secure, and the rear plastic shell will work to protect most of the rear iPad mini casing from damage. As with the Axis, this case is not a substitute for some of the other heavy duty options on the market. Seriously think of this case as a smaller version of Apple’s Smart Case (Apple only offers this case for the iPad with the 9.7-inch screen).

Features:

The MicroShell’s front flap has the ability to flap backwards and sit in a special slit to hold the iPad mini in ideal video watching position. I was pleasantly surprised to find how secure and sturdy this positioning mechanism is because of how light the case’s overall construction is.

Wrap-up/pricing: We recommend the Marware MicroShell Folio for anyone who wants to bring a Smart Case like experience to their iPad mini. The MicroShell typically costs just under $35, but we have located some great deals on this case at Amazon. The MicroShell comes in black (which we tested), purple, and blue.

Hands-on gallery:

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Review Roundup: The Retina Ipad Mini Verdict Is ‘Pricey But Best Small Tablet Ever’

A Retina display may have been some time coming on the iPad mini, but the general verdict appears to be that it was worth the wait.

Many are querying the price, especially now that the full-size iPad Air is so much smaller and lighter than its predecessors, and costs just $100 more. But if portability is key, reviewers seem every bit as impressed by the iPad mini as I was by the Air.

Read on for the conclusions from five early reviews … 

CNET bemoans the price and lack of Touch ID, but finds it otherwise perfect:

The good: The iPad Mini with Retina Display adds an excellent high-resolution display that rivals the iPad Air’s, a far faster A7 processor, and tops it off with improved Wi-Fi and LTE connectivity, with battery life that’s as good or better than in last year’s Mini.

The bad: A starting price of $399 places it well above the small-tablet competition, and adding more storage or LTE makes it even more expensive. It lacks the innovative Touch ID fingerprint sensor that the iPhone 5S sports.

The bottom line: The new iPad Mini somehow shrinks down the iPad Air into an even more compact package, sacrificing nearly nothing. It’s more expensive than before, but it’s also the perfect smaller tablet.

Gizmodo loves the screen, though not the speakers or the price:

This year’s iPad mini is, after a short time playing with it, picture perfect […]

Yep! There it is. That’s the one. The new iPad mini has finally, blessedly, gotten a display that can keep up with last year’s Android tablets. This is exactly what it should have been all along […]

The speaker placement is still terrible for doing anything that requires a landscape orientation. your palm can’t help but cover them up, everything is muffled, you can’t avoid it, it is bad […]

$400 for a 16GB model. That’s… disappointing. Especially since its direct competitors—with their own bright and shiny displays—are now more than $150 cheaper. That’s a lot of coin, especially for a feature that it should have had in the first place […] It may still not be a deal, but it’s finally free of any dealbreakers.

The original iPad mini blew us away, but we were also clear on the improvements we wanted to see, and Apple has taken steps to make the iPad mini 2 with Retina even more attractive.

Faster, prettier and more featured, the new iPad mini is everything we hoped it would be. Although there was nothing that we didn’t expect, it should be noted that this is a tablet that ticks every box.

The price is higher again as Apple, like Amazon and Google, looks to step away from the razor-thin margins of last year’s budget tablets, but on our early look alone, we think Apple has once again eased ahead in the mid-size slate space.

The Verge says it doesn’t matter whether you buy the Air or the mini, you can’t lose:

To those people, I say: go for it. You can’t lose. I’d buy a mini for myself, because I love having something that doesn’t take up much space in my bag and that I can wield even on a crowded subway. But the mini is now so beautiful and so immersive that you’ll never want to look away from the screen, and the Air now so portable and usable that you’ll rarely need to put it down. The mini used to be the lesser one, the reductive one, the one you bought if you couldn’t fit or afford the iPad. Now it’s just the smaller one.

Wired says Apple was late delivering an iPad mini with retina display, but that it’s what it was waiting for:

This is the iPad mini we’ve all been waiting for.

When the first generation iPad mini debuted last year, it was a terrific product. Apple’s first stab at a smaller tablet looked more far more elegant than the competition, managed to squeeze a larger 7.9-inch display in a traditionally 7-inch tablet form factor, and featured remarkable battery life. But its 1024 x 768 resolution display was a major let down compared to the Retina displays on the iPhone and full size iPad, as well as the growing number of HD screen-sporting Android tablets […]

The iPad mini is exactly the type of product we expect from Apple. Stunning good looks, a display so high resolution it’d take a magnifying glass to pick out the pixels, and unparalleled performance. This is the smaller iPad that should have debuted last year, but hey, better late than never.

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